HOW TO GET A PROFESSIONAL QUALITY, AFFORDABLE SOUND
A lot of people aspire to stream their gameplay and make youtube videos demonstrating highlights of their best games, tips and tricks or full let’s play style videos. There are hundreds of different streaming platforms out there, and a huge amount of editing options available, but the one key thing that people are often lacking is an import and easy to get piece of kit; a decent microphone! This is our list of affordable and simple to use microphones for YouTube and Twitch.
It’s far easier and cheaper than you think to get a decent stand alone microphone that will give you a clearer, professional sound to go along with your games videos, and will mean that you don’t need an average quality headset microphone poking out across your face in every video or livestream. These microphones have simple USB connections, so don’t require complex setup, and come with a stand.
What type of mic do you need?
It’s also important to note that they are a few different types of microphones, each with their own set of strengths and weaknesses. Dynamic microphones are your cheapest range. They work by containing a small lightweight diaphragm that moves in response to sound, when this diaphragm moves, a coil in a magnetic field is moved, which will generate an electric current. These microphones are a little bit less sensitive to sound, but in general can withstand a bit more punishment. There are then condenser microphones which will provide very high fidelity and keep your audio true to the source. They contain a thin, stretched conductive diaphragm that sits over a charged metallic backplate which creates a capacitor. The diaphragm will vibrate slightly in response to sound pressure, altering the capacitance and producing a voltage variation. Modern USB mics contain an onboard preamp and an analog to digital converter and have all the advantages of these traditional microphones in one package. Meaning that using a USB mic is an ideal solution for most people nowadays.
Below is our list of the top 10 microphones available at the moment. Some are slightly suited to different scenarios, but all are perfect for using for using to work with creating Youtube videos or adding commentary to a stream. There’s no order to to the list, each of these mics has it’s own strengths and weaknesses.
|Microphone||Type||Frequency Response||Direction||Average Review||Price|
|Condenser||40Hz - 18kHz||Omnidirectional or Cardioid||$$$|
|Condenser||10Hz - 20 kHz||Cardioid||$$|
Cad Audio U37
|Condenser||20Hz - 20kHz||Cardioid||$|
|Condenser||20Hz - 20kHz||Cardioid, Bidirectional, Omnidirectional, Stereo||$$$$|
|Condenser||20Hz - 20kHz||Cardioid||$|
|Studio Condenser||20Hz - 20kHz||Cardioid||$$$$$|
|Condenser||20Hz - 18kHz||Cardioid||$$$|
Audio Technica AT2020
|Condenser||20Hz - 20kHz||Cardioid||$$$$|
|Condenser||35Hz - 20kHz||Cardioid||$$$|
Blue microphones are easily the pinnacle microphone maker when it comes to affordable, professional home microphones. This microphone is good to go straight out of the box for Mac and PC via a simple USB connection. The stylish retro looking microphone ball comes in a range of colours and looks great on a small, adjustable silver stand.
The microphone has three distinct settings, each altering the pattern and optimising the microphone to capture different kinds of input. ‘Caldroid mode’ is suited to primarily vocal capture and is ideal for things like lets plays and games recordings, and is great for commentating whilst livestreaming games. Caldroid mode with -10 dB PAD mode is the same as Caldroid mode, but has a -10dB attenuation that will help with clearly capturing louder sounds. There is also an omnidirectional setting, which allows you to pick up sounds from all around you, which is great incase you have people with you or want to capture a live podcast style video. The frequency response is the sensitivity range of a microphone, ranging from highest to lowest possible frequencies. The frequency response on this microphone ranges from 18-40kHz depending on the setting selected.
The quality you get from this microphone is what you expect from a Blue microphone. You’ll easily notice the quality improvement over your headsets microphone, and will get a much better audio track to go with your gameplay videos or to chat to your subscribers on Twitch. The digital USB connection means you don’t get the static it’s easy to pick up with typical typical microphone jack microphones. At £42.99 this microphone is a very good price for an extremely solid piece of kid. Below around £30 and you’re going to start suffering with the quality, but for the next huge leap in quality you’re looking at £70 plus.
Auna is a brand name that you may see a lot on good quality yet affordable DJ equipment, car audio, amps, headphones and mixers. Auna has a huge range of audi equipment designed for middle to high end use, and the MIC-900 Cardioid USB microphone is currently their best audio recording solution. This mic like most others is compatible with Mac and PC straight out of the box and connects via a standard, included, USB connection cable.
The mic is a cardioid mic, with a sample rate of 48kHz, making it ideal for capturing voice audio with minimal feedback or distortion. It has no specific stand to it, but comes with a shock mount and stand adapter. The shock mount means that when you attach it to a stand, small vibrations from the desk or surface it sits on will be caught and won’t end up vibrating the internal parts of the microphone and adding unwanted noise. So although you may need to get yourself a mic stand as well as this mic, the advantage of the shock adapter might be very useful for some.
CAD Audio are right up there with the best in high end professional recording equipment. So much so that the U37 USB mic is one of their cheapest offerings. The mic is good to go with Mac or PC and comes with a very sturdy and adjustable tripod stand. Like one of the Blue Snowball’s options, the U37 has a -10dB overload switch that will minimize distortion from very loud sources. It also features a bass reduction switch which reduces external noise from within the room.
The mic is a standard cardioid microphone, making it ideal for home audio recordings.
Samson are another company who specialise and lead the market in technical audio equipment. With their ranges of mics, mixers, amps, headphones and full PA systems, they really know their stuff. This mic is compatible with Mac and PC without the need for drivers or setup, connecting via a simple USB plug.
It’s available in a smooth titanium black or polished chrome colours, both of which look amazing and help make this possibly the best looking microphone on the market. Three small tripod legs below the mic provide a sturdy base and can fold up for easy storage. Each legs angle can be adjusted independently so that the mic can be pointed in certain directions if desired. On the front there is a quick mute switch as well as a headphones volume slider giving you quick and easy access over your audio. There is also an actual headphone jack on the microphone, allowing you to easily listen to yourself, which can be very useful for adding commentary over gameplay later on!
The Meteor mic also features a small ‘health’ LED light on the front. This light will change from blue to orange to red based on whether it detects the audio it’s receiving to be too loud and generating a lot of feedback. This is perfect for using whilst gaming as without a lot of practice you may find that some parts of your video fluctuate between being too quiet or too loud with a burst of feedback. Using the health light you can instantly recognise when you need to move back slightly or move the mic away a little. Having this kind of feedback without the need to open mixing software mid-game or mid-stream is a very useful feature.
The flat 48kHz frequency response of this cardioid pickup pattern mic make it perfect for picking up single person direct audio, so you won’t suffer from background noises creeping into your audio feed. A lot of reviewers and users compare the quality of recordings made using this microphone to mics that cost £150-£200 instead of its peers. Not even other Samson mics receive the praise that the Meteor does.
There are good microphones, there are very good microphones, and then there is the Yeti microphone from Blue. This piece of kit is the microphone against which all other mics are measured. You will probably find that most of the popular Youtubers you watch either use, or have used this microphone at one point during their careers. It’s our second recommended mic from Blue, and definitely the microphone we would suggest, even with its slightly higher cost. Like the others this mic is easy to setup for Mac and PC, and is even confirmed as working on Linux machines without issue.
The Yeti features the same modes as the Yeti Snowball and a fourth extra setting. The cardioid mode which is well suited to capturing single audio, directly in front of the microphone. Omnidirectional mode picks up audio equally from all directions, which is useful if you want to capture the complete ambience of a room. Bidirectional mode captures from the front and the rear of the microphone, so is useful for situations where you have more than one person present and want to capture both peoples audio without hearing the entire rooms background noise. Stereo mode uses both the left and the right channel and captures a realistic, general sound recording.
The Yeti features an array of real-time onboard settings adjustment controls including headphone volume, gain, pattern selection and instant mute. Meaning you can make on the fly tweaks to your audio recording based on the situation, your surroundings and what’s happening in the game. There is a headphone jack on the back of the microphone to make listening along to audio recordings easier.
With it’s stylish silver design, the Yeti is easily one of the best looking microphones out there. The stand is a fixed part of the mic, which allows it to be tipped and positioned in whatever position is most suitable, and tightened to lock in place.
It’s hard to find a bad review, or even a criticism of the Blue Yeti mic, and they are used widely by Youtubers, streamers and podcasters. The price is a little steeper than the other mics, but you really do get what you pay for with the Yeti. WIth any other mic, you’ll always be thinking about your ‘next upgrade’ to the Yeti, whereas with one you’ll know that there’s no better microphone to upgrade to without building a full recording studio!
This is our second suggested offering by Samson. The Meteorite is slightly cheaper and as the name suggests, it’s a smaller, more compact unit. The standard plug and play cable lets you use this microphone on Mac or PC without having to install without the need for intrusive software. This mic has a slightly shorter cable than some, so is ideally suited to sitting on a desk, and less so for travel. The stand is the base of the spherical microphone and allows the mic to easily be pointed in the best direction.
There is a small LED on the front that will shine blue unless the audio is peaking, which is great for easily letting you know when you’re setup may be giving you audio problems. Even with this, the mic still uses little enough power that, with the right adapter, can even be used with your iPad. You’re not going to get the depth and bass that you would with the Samson Meteor, but for your money, the Meteorite is a very good option.
Røde are the sort of company that primarily make studio quality mics and gear for professional, live use. This mic is definitely their attempt at bringing some of the standards of a studio quality mic to the every day USB consumer. The tripod stand that the NT comes with shock absorption to stop any knocks or vibrations being picked up as sound, and an integrated pop filter to keep your recordings smooth. Rode put the same condenser capsule inside this microphone as they do their professional studio mics, which is very evident in the quality of the recordings produced.
The microphone does remains clear at the top end and keeps its bassy warmth at the bottom end, producing little to no internal noise. There are on-board controls that will allow you to control the monitoring level and the mix of computer / mic audio coming through the headphones (which can be plugged into the on-board mic jack). All reviews we found agree that the price-tag for this mic set an expectation that the mic massively outperformed. There are good USB mics and there are great ones, but if you want to begin to push studio level sound, then the Rode NT-USB is going to be your best choice.
This is an incredibly popular and often suggested mid tier microphone for crisp, clear sounds on a very easy setup on a Mac or a PC. It’s a standard Cardioid Pickup Pattern mic with a smooth flat frequency response, so perfect for recording your audio over a game or video.
This mic doesn’t come with a stand, so it does give you freedom to explore the wide range of available mic stands. Some microphones are a little constricting with their design and have to sit on their own stands and point their own ways. With the C-1U you can attach any standard US or EU stand, from a handheld handle, a base stand or even a larger, adjustable arm!
This is another mic that you’re going to find is constantly compared to professional, studio microphones. This price range is perfect for mics that hit the lower end of studio quality, whilst using USB connections and remaining a reasonable choice for amateurs or non audiophiles. A microphone like this though isn’t for everyone. If you have need for something that’s going to give you a bit of a wider range, so you have the option of recording music, group vocals or stranger, ambient sounds, or if you’d like to have that range and that choice, then the AT2020 is going to give you this freedom.
Audio Technica aren’t primarily aiming what they develop at the simple desktop user, so you’re going to get essentially a budget studio quality microphone. Often users comment about the sensitivity of this mic, akin to a microphone that would cost 2 – 3 times as much.
The Blue Snowflake is the third Blue microphone in our list, and for good reason. The Snowflake is a great little robust mic, ideal for someone who doesn’t necessarily want a great big microphone on their desk, or travels a lot. The Snowflake will pack up small, and even sit on the top of your laptop without the need for an external grip or a dodgy blue-tac job or expert balancing act.
The size of this mic make it ideal for use when recording voice over video, as it’s definitely not a microphone that’s going to pick up your whole room or a group of people without some echoing. Definitely the best choice for someone who enjoys working whilst travelling or produces content on the go / outside of their office.